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The BTR 60PB & BTR 70

Background information by Guy Bowers

 

The BTR series (or Bronetransporter) is the product of the demand of Soviet doctrine, the need for a cost effective armoured troop transporter. The Soviet army wholly lacked an indigenous armoured transport in WW2. From the US and UK, they received the Universal carrier and M3`s (Scout car and Half track), which were used mostly by scouting forces. The troops had to travel in unarmoured trucks, on the back of tanks or more often on foot. It was here that the assault, or Shturm, concept was developed. Fast moving strike troops with automatic weapons traveling along and supporting armour. Traveling on the tank was far from ideal and impractical in the heat of battle; if they could hang on, the troops were exposed to the effect of enemy fire and the overpressure shock of the tank`s main gun when it fired. The Soviet`s determination to have fully mechanised forces demanded a transport, which could deliver their troops quickly and in relative safety (from small arms and artillery shrapnel) into the heart of the battle.

 

Since the end of the great Patriotic war, the Soviets have tried a long line of vehicles to transport troops, such as the four-wheeled BTR 40 (influenced by the M3 Scout car), the six-wheeled BTR 152 (influenced by the M3 halftrack) and the tracked BTR 50. In the late 1950`s the BTR 60 concept was evolved: It was derived from the BTR 152 but would be fully enclosed, have eight wheels and be fully amphibious. When in the water, the BTR 60 (and subsequent BTR 70) are propelled by a water jet at the rear of the vehicle. Virtually all of the Soviet armoured forces from self propelled guns to tanks either are amphibious or have deep wading equipment.

 

The BTR should be put in contrast to the more complex BMP. The BMP is admittedly better armed, better armoured and being tracked has slightly better manoeuvrability. However, the wheeled BTR series is faster and perhaps more importantly cheaper to produce. Numbers are approximately two BTRs to every one BMP in service but vary in regiments. The BMP is primarily equipped to tank regiments while the BTR is used to equip motorised rifle regiments. Some observers have suggested this is an unofficial division between fast moving cavalry or recon forces to probe the enemy (BTRs) and hard hitting assault forces (BMPs).

 

The original version, the BTR 60P had an enclosed crew compartment and an open topped troop compartment with three firing ports. This was soon followed by the BTR 60PA, with an enclosed troop compartment. This in turn was superseded by the BTR 60PB, which mounted a small conical turret. The turret is the same as is found on the OT-64 and BRDM-2 series. The PB version only has two firing ports per side. The driver and commander sit side by side with top opening hatches, which open forward to shield the crew from gunfire. The gunner does not have a hatch in the turret. The twelve troops carried exit out of hatches in the top of the vehicle (a slight tactical flaw remedied with the BTR 70).

 

The BTR series (from the 60-PB) are armed with a small conical turret, which mounts the formidable KPV heavy machinegun and a PK machinegun. The earlier P and PA are found with top mounted PK or DSHK machineguns. The KPV (Krupnokaliberny Pulemiot Vladimirova) fires a 14.5mm round, the same ammunition which was originally developed for the PTRS Anti tank rifle in World War 2. With some 30mm single shot and 60mm `bullet tap` armour penetration, the KPV will engage light armour successfully. The PK is a reliable machinegun similar in size and function to the GPMG (FN-Mag), being for antipersonnel and softskin target use. 500 rounds are provided for the KPV while the PK has 2000 rounds as standard.

 

The BTR 70 was an improvement of the BTR 60 series. The BTR 70 originally used the same wheels set as the BTR 60 and the BRDM 2. It also shares the same turret and has other components in common (much like the BTR 50 series and the BMP). With the BTR 70, there is an additional triangular access hatch between the second and third set of road wheels, allowing the infantry carried to dismount in some safety on one side should the vehicle be under fire. There are three firing ports a side. A section of nine infantry are usually carried, the six troops with firing ports are back to back facing outward, the remainder face the driver.

 

The BTR 60 continued to be produced for export while the BTR 70 production was changed in the 80`s for the BTR 80.

 

The BTR 60 series was widely used by the Soviet Union and Soviet Satellite nations in the 80`s including Warsaw Pact Nations (apart from Poland and Czechoslovakia who used the OT-64), Soviet Republics, Yugoslavia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Cuba, Yemen, Angola, Somalia, Syria and India. The Romanians built a licensed version called the TAB-72.

 

The BTR 70 series in the ‘80’s was exclusively used by the Soviet Union and East Germany. As the BTR 80 slowly replaced the BTR 70, as the BTR 80 became more available, the BTR 70 then started appearing in some Soviet Satellite arsenals.

 

Both models are in wide use today. The original factories Kharkiv Morozov, now offer upgrades for BTR 60PBs and BTR 70`s to convert their engines to diesel and upgrade their weapon suite to a 30mm remote gun (with optional Kornet 4 tube missile system).